UPDATED: Local Harvest Cafe & Grocery Launch Fundraiser to Thwart "Imminent Closure"

Categories: Restaurant News

localharvestclosing.jpg
       Hummus plates at Local Harvest Cafe. | Jennifer Silverberg

UPDATE: Local Harvest has switched to an IndieGoGo page -- you can find it here. There are twelve days left in the campaign.

It's been just over a week since Local Harvest Cafe & Grocery (3137 Morganford Road; 314-772-8815) re-opened its Tower Grove location with a new concept and branding as "LHC." The Kirkwood location closed in August after just ten months. Now it appears that the entire Local Harvest company could fold altogether. Owners Patrick Horine and Maddie Earnest posted a plea on Local Harvest's Facebook page yesterday outlining the cafe's financial straits and how fans can help it stay open.

We spoke to Horine on the plan to save LHC and what will happen if it doesn't reach its $120,000 goal.

See also: Local Harvest Cafe Debuts New Concept "All About the C" in January

Here's the Facebook post that appeared yesterday:

Horine tells Gut Check that re-branding as LHC helped business pick up in Tower Grove, but the failure of the Kirkwood location is still weighing them down.

"[For] about fourteen months we've been kind of just struggling at all locations because of the amount of money we had to put into the Kirkwood location. It's just been building up and it hit a critical point last week," says Horine.

Horine says they don't really have the time to set up an actual Kickstarter campaign, so the Facebook campaign is LHC's own version. To help them raise $120,000 by February 7, you can buy a gift certificate that can be redeemed in early 2015 and will earn 10 percent interest. You can also buy a year-long punch card for $100, that will get you $10 each month at Local Harvest.

If the campaign fails to meet its goals, funders' credit cards will not be charged, or they will be refunded if purchased online. You can buy a gift certificate or punch card in-store or online here.

"We've had crises before and struggled before. Maddie and I have always stuck with it because we feel like what we're doing is import for the neighborhood and our community," Horine says. "We feel like we need to give the community an opportunity to try to do something -- we know if we just close the doors without doing that, a lot of people would be upset."

The original Local Harvest Grocery opened in 2007 and the cafe started out as a sandwich counter inside before moving to a storefront across the street in 2008. The downtown and Kirkwood locations opened in 2012. Horine and Earnest also founded the Tower Grove Farmers' Market.

"We don't really have a plan B. This is it. It's a critical point -- we don't really have a way to go on," Horine says. "We're just going to have to play it day to day right now during this campaign and see if we are able to reach our goal."

Gut Check is always hungry for tips and feedback. E-mail the author at nancy.stiles@riverfronttimes.com or follow her on Twitter.




Location Info

Local Harvest Cafe & Catering

3137 Morganford Road, St. Louis, MO

Category: Restaurant


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20 comments
wump
wump

i tried and tried to go to the downtown cafe.  they used to open at 8, that doesn't help, I need coffee before that.  then they changed to opening at 10, even more worthless.  they used to be open on the weekend, and got some rooster over flow, then they started closing on weekends, again, worthless.  the downtown cafe had no store section to speak of at all.  the food was good, but they have/had shit hours, grumpy staff, no clear distinction between the take out and sit down services.  they bothered to get a liquor license, then were open from 10-2, monday through friday, great time to sell booze, this isn't madmen here.  I am absolutely the target demographic for the downtown location, live and work downtown, in my twenties, I don't go to chains and try to support locally owned businesses.  and they completely alienated me and many others who fit the target demographic.  I hope they survive, if only because we don't need more vacant storefronts downtown, but you are tossing good money after bad if they don't improve the biz model.  

raccoozie
raccoozie

Since its been updated to an indiegogo campaign keep in mind that it has a flexible funding clause.


"This campaign will receive all funds raised even if it does not reach its goal. Funding duration: January 27, 2014 - February 08, 2014 (11:59pm PT)."


Basically if they don't reach their goal they can keep all the money but still go under. If they really are in dire need of this exact sum then they should not have opted into the flexible funding clause.

chica2270
chica2270

While I don't want to see a local business go down, I do believe they've made some really poor choices.  Their other businesses aren't doing fine, they closed the Kirkwood store down this last summer.  It wasn't open very long.  Sure the Downtown store is fine, the Yup crowd needs food choices and with that and Culinaria, it's kind of a desert unless you travel.  I would feel very uncomfortable buying a gift certificate that might just be useless a year from now.  If they prove us wrong, great.  What happens the next time their in trouble?  (BTW, I can't afford to own a car, anyone want to start up a campaign to raise money for my needs?)

Betsy Killian
Betsy Killian

I love to support small, local businesses; especially those who have made efforts to source locally from other small businesses. I went to LH in Kirkwood repeatedly and had bad cafe food all but the first time, and staff who had no regard for store cleanliness or customer service. I stopped buying prepared food at the cafe and tried to show support buying items off the shelves and cooler. Even then, staff treated customers like they were inconvenienced and doing us a favor, instead of just being friendly and helpful. It was no surprise when that store failed, and with poor management and oversight, this "fundraiser" will likely prolong the inevitable.

Bill Roth
Bill Roth

How much are the banks going to loose? After the banks loose, well us little bank customers will loose in the long run.

Drew Patterson
Drew Patterson

From their most recent post: "Also, we have had many questions about what we will use the money for and how it will keep us open. We will use the money to pay off some pressing debts and to restock the grocery store. The debts are a result of our failed Kirkwood expansion and the dwindling inventory at the grocery store is a result of paying these debts ongoing for the last many months. We know that our businesses will be sound after we reach our goal because they were so strong for so long. If we can get back to where we were pre-Kirkwood, we will be fine. Even with a bad year with declining inventory levels in 2013 we were able to grow at a 5% rate. That has not been enough to offset what we are dealing with every week, though. Another question is how will we weather the redemption of gift certificates starting in 2015. We will get into a stronger position immediately if we reach our goal and then we will operate with these redemptions in mind. We will have the spring and summer and holiday season to prepare - our best times of year. Also, the amount we expect to redeem will not be more of a burden than the debt payments we have been making for the last year. We will be able to weather the redemption period well."

Alexis Wilson-Kirk
Alexis Wilson-Kirk

I applaud you for popping back on and offering some constructive ideas. So many people wouldn't think to do that at all! If you go to the Local Harvest Cafe & Catering facebook page, you can ask them any questions you'd like about their plan forward. Several folks have asked some tough questions and they seem to be answering each one honestly with what they know right now. I'm sure they would love to hear your idea!

Helen Nickerson
Helen Nickerson

i felt bad for slamming them so i did post one cost effective idea that is inline with a proper pricing structure for their demographic. maybe we should all try that instead?

Helen Nickerson
Helen Nickerson

well i thought i should pop back in with an idea, slamming someone with nothing constructive to add is poor judgement on my part, sorry about that. make seasonal deals with your vendors and make sack lunches to sell people in the morning on their way to work for $2 or $3 a pop. they'll get variety, they'll get good local food thats in season and a parent can send their child to school with them. you will have to open earlier.

Megan Wolz
Megan Wolz

I agree! There are always other options..Everyone cant just expect a handout-- business plan anyone?

Helen Nickerson
Helen Nickerson

There is no mentioning of restructure? Or management change, or hiring a professional consultant. Who is the CPA firm? We messed up and have done no thing to correct the situation. May we have your money now please? Really?

sweatpantsboner
sweatpantsboner

So they expect the community to bail their asses out after they made numerous poor business decisions? It sucks that a local business is going under but fuck them if they can't take responsibility for their own mistakes. I hear through the grapevine that they are really awful at running their business so I would expect this again and again if it works this time.

wump
wump

@chica2270there is no "downtown store", they have a restaurant downtown, its open from 10-2 monday through friday, its totally worthless.

Person
Person

@nosexinthechampagner 

Wow. Thanks for that great tidbit of info that you "[heard] through the grapevine," Guy with Outdated Chris Rock Reference Username!

Maeve Connor
Maeve Connor

@nosexinthechampagner Actually, they say their other businesses are doing fine (the TG cafe and store, and the downtown cafe). Have a little empathy, will ya? Nobody likes to see local businesses close, especially in this city where it's so hard to get one going in the first place. They support local farmers. They bring great food to the area. They're great people. Even if you don't help them out, at least have a heart. Oh, wait. I'm sure you've never made any mistakes, ever. 

sweatpantsboner
sweatpantsboner

Thanks for the ad hominem attack. You reminded me I need to update my user name. Now back to the list of great business practices performed by local harvest.

1...

Well, that was quick.

hhspagirl
hhspagirl

@Maeve Connor @sweatpantsboner I guess we all know now that the other businesses really are NOT doing fine since, just a few weeks after raising all the cash, they abruptly closed one of them.

sweatpantsboner
sweatpantsboner

Ah, yes, they are doing fine at the other locations, hence the desperate rebranding of the tower grove location weeks before they are going under. If this 120k debt is a surprise then they are even worse at running a business than advertised. If you want to get rid of some cash feel free to buy gift certificates you won't get to use since they are going to close before 2015 or you could use it as toilet paper. At least then it will serve a practical purpose.

Person
Person

@sweatpantsboner 

You don't quite know what "ad hominem" means, do you?

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